Ex-MPAA general counsel pleads guilty to sex abuse, blackmail charges

REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
  • Steven Fabrizio faces up to 15 years in prison and must register as a sex offender
  • Fabrizio was GC at the Motion Picture Association of America when he was arrested in 2019
  • Earlier he was a Jenner & Block partner and practice leader

July 30 - Steven Fabrizio, 57, a former global general counsel for the Motion Picture Association of America and onetime Jenner & Block partner, pleaded guilty on Friday to sex abuse and blackmail charges during a virtual hearing in Washington, D.C., Superior Court.

Fabrizio was arrested in August 2019 and charged with raping and blackmailing a woman he met on a website for “sugar daddy” dating. According to a police affidavit, after an initial consensual meeting in which he paid for sex, he threatened to tell the victim’s family, landlord, and workplace if she refused to meet for sex again. He sexually abused her after pressuring her to agree to a second encounter, the affidavit said.

The victim then contacted police. Fabrizio was initially charged with second degree sex abuse and blackmail and was fired by the MPAA.

Prosecutors told the court in early June that they had reached a plea agreement. Under the deal, first publicly detailed on Friday, Fabrizio pleaded guilty to one count of third degree sex abuse, which has a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment and a maximum fine of $25,000, and one count of blackmail, which carries a maximum five-year prison term and a $12,500 fine. He must also register as a sex offender for 10 years.

The government agreed not to bring any more charges and to allow Fabrizio to self-surrender to a Federal Bureau of Prisons facility. The court scheduled a sentencing hearing for Oct. 29.

Fabrizio's lawyer, Brandi Harden of Harden & Pinckney, did not respond to requests for comment. The U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia declined to comment beyond a press release noting the guilty pleas and thanking the prosecutors and investigators involved.

When it hired him in 2013, the MPAA called Fabrizio "one of the preeminent copyright and content protection lawyers in the country.” Before joining the Hollywood trade group, which advocates for the film and TV industries in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., Fabrizio was a senior partner and co-chair of Jenner & Block’s content, media and entertainment practice.

According to an August 2019 police affidavit, Fabrizio was arrested in D.C. in 2010 for sexual solicitation. A spokesperson for Jenner & Block declined to comment; the firm told the Washingtonian magazine in 2019 that it had no knowledge of any arrests involving its former partner.

Before moving to Jenner & Block in 2003, Fabrizio was senior vice president of legal and business affairs of the Recording Industry Association of America and founded the organization’s litigation department, according to his LinkedIn profile.

The case is United States vs. Fabrizio, Steven, Superior Court for the District of Columbia, No. 2019 CF1 010989.

For the defendant: Brandi Harden of Harden & Pinckney

For the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia: Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter Taylor

(This story was updated to include a statement Jenner & Block made about Fabrizio in 2019.)

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Chinekwu Osakwe covers legal industry news with a focus on midsize law firms. Reach her at Chinekwu.osakwe@thomsonreuters.com.